Respect is a Solid Foundation for Leadership



“Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” — Clint Eastwood

Some leaders end up ineffective because they worry too much about being liked.

In trying to please everyone, they please no one.

Tough decisions don’t get made, things don’t get done, and people end up unhappy.

More effective leaders earn respect by being reliable, thoughtful, and accountable.

They work the tough stuff, and they help others to do the same.

In the book, Warriors At The Helm: A Leader’s Guide to Success in Business, author Juan Carlos Marcos reminds us that respect is more important than popularity when it comes to effective leadership.

Liked and Respected is Ideal

While being liked and respected is ideal, Marcos suggests that being respected trumps popularity when it comes to being an effective leader.

Marcos  writes:

“Being liked is not necessarily a benefit in the corporate world.  That is not to suggest that people conduct themselves in a boorish manner.  Rather it is, to be very clear, that being respected is much more important than being liked.  Being liked and respected is ideal.  The two are not mutually exclusive.”

Nice Without Substance Doesn’t Cut It

People will often be pleasant and polite to people who are nice.  But, nice people lose respect if they don’t have any substance.   People want leaders that focus on more than just a popularity contest.  They want meaningful missions that matter.

Marcos  writes:

“Some people spend inordinate amounts of time doing things that they perceive will make them popular with co-worker.  It is interesting how these people appear shocked when co-workers or the boss tell them to focus on doing the job.  Some are incapable of understanding that nice without substance does not cut it.”

Unproductive Teams Aren’t Sustainable

In the corporate arena, ineffective teams don’t last for the long haul.  Results speak volumes for real respect.

Marcos  writes:

“Bosses who focus on doing things to be liked by their colleagues and subordinates, rather than doing things to be effective, invariably create aggravation for the very people they are trying to hard to please.  When the work fails to get done, there are consequences.  Liking the boss at the expense of productivity is not a sustainable situation.  Bosses who seek to be popular often avoid making the tough, or what they perceive might be unpopular, decisions.  Avoiding decisions or looking for universally popular decisions is pure folly.”

Reliable, Thoughtful, and Accountable Earns Respect

When a leader does what they say they will do, and makes tough decision where it counts,  they earn the respect of their followers.

Marcos  writes:

“Conversely, respect is a solid foundation on which to position effectiveness and leadership.  Co-workers who are perceived as reliable, along with bosses who make thoughtful decisions and accept responsibility are respected.  Not all bad bosses are Barbarians.  Some bosses are very good people who simply have no business being in a leadership role.”

While you can improve your likability, earning respect starts with self-respect.   Don’t let yourself down, be thoughtful in your choices and your actions, and your sphere of influence will expand.

You Might Also Like

Warrior Leaders Focus on the Highest Value Activities

Warrior Leaders are Positive and Exude Positive Energy

Warrior Leaders Reveal Great Character

Image by U.S. Army.


  1. You seem to be getting a lot of value from this book! I ordered a copy. Are you going to do a top 10 takeaways post at some point?

    • Hey Kwame,

      It’s a definite candidate. I find myself flipping through it often, and it resonates, so it would definitely make a good 10 takeaways post.


Comments are closed.